Monday, September 19, 2005
A tank top and shorts
Canberra schools finish at Year 10 and you go on to a different school for year 11 and 12, and this is why there is a tradition of a year 10 formal - 'the grad'. Some people thought that a formal dinner and dance, requiring metres of taffeta per girl and the hiring of tuxes for the boys was probably a bit excessive, considering that it wasn't really the end of school for more than a very few students. I remember a letter going home to parents suggesting something along the lines of a modest 'bush dance' in the school gym instead of the extravaganza at the Lakeside that we had spent four years expecting. You'd better believe that didn't fly.
For weeks leading up to the event, all the talk amongst many of the girls in Year 10 was of what you were wearing. Since Mum is a fantastic dressmaker, of course she was going to make my outfit. We came up with a most cunning plan, Mum started sewing, and I waited for someone to ask me what I was wearing.
My friends were totally in fashion, grad-fashion-1990 that is. Somehow we had landed right on the cusp of a fashion wave. Abruptly from the next grad season onward, there was little-to-no taffeta and not a poofy sleeve or full skirt to be seen in young ladies' formal wear. It was all slim and slinky and much more grown-up.
My outfit, on the other hand, was never really in fashion, yet it is extremely dated now. That's a kind way of putting it.
The bottom part is culottes. Short, well-above-the-knee ones. You know, they look mostly like a skirt, but crucially, aren't. I don't think there was any point to this choice other than to be as deliberately weird as possible while still not looking actually weird (well, maybe a little bit). For the year 12 grad, I had black satin jeans... see a theme? (At least those saw more use later.)
The jacket is batwing. I don't think I need to say more. I suppose you could call it a shrug, a largish one, and try to get away with it now. I still love the fabric though, it's some kind of velvety stuff.
The top is a very nice green satin tank with some tasteful beading on the front. Because everything was oversized back then, I've even been able to wear it recently, though I had to put little splits in the sides so it didn't bunch up over my hips.
My shoes were flat. (Heels? Ew!) I wore no makeup. (Makeup? Double ew!) But I certainly had BIG earrings which matched the colour of my top.
Finally the day came. One of the girls at school (not one of my close friends, they of course already knew all the details) asked me the very important question: what was I wearing to the grad? The tone of my reply was as casual as the answer itself.
'A tank top and shorts'.
I savoured her response, expecially as there were others around too. The look of horror, then superiority and pity.
'You won't get in!'